First port of call this instalment is the Translators Association's acknowledgement that racial inequality is systemically embedded within the literary translation industry. It is a rallying cry for everyone at every level, in every role, to make change.
Then there are two very exciting sci-fi events that you should be signing up for (and I would be too if they weren't in the States), plus writing from Malaysian author Ho Fok Song and Tibetan writer Tsering Norbu, translated by Natascha Bruce and Riga Shakya, respectively.
Followed by the now-to-be-expected mainstay: more reviews for Strange Beasts of China and The Membranes. Plus the announcement of two new books coming soon. See below to find out which!
The International Booker Prize longlist is out, and Can Xue features, timely news given the announcement of her new novella (tr. Natascha Bruce) out next year. Yang Lian and Brian Holton are on the podium, too, for Anniversary Snow. But alas, it's not all good news. LARB China Channel is closing due to struggles with funding. But ever the givers, its contributors have provided one last hurrah by pointing us in the direction of their own favourite sources of all things China and Chinese. See below for more!
This fortnight we trace the origin of the cosmos with the Nuosu creation story and look to the future with oracle-penman Chen Qiufan. If you're looking to practice your pronunciation, there's Bopomofo poetry or Jidi Majia in Scots, but if all you really want is to sit back and relax with a film, Taiwanese cinema has something for everyone.
But in the past few years—a period that has seen China’s sci-fi authors elevated to the status of New Age prophets—Chen’s own career has become an object in the fun-house mirror. After The Waste Tide garnered widespread attention at home and abroad, reviewers began praising Chen as the “William Gibson of China,” and the tech industry has embraced him as a kind of oracle. An institute run by AI expert and venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee’s company has even developed an algorithm capable of writing fiction in the author’s voice.
I don't know if the amount of news is increasing each week or if we're just getting better at finding it! Feast your eyes on this delectable selection of all things Chinese lit in translation.
Some of you have asked us if you'll be able to sign up to receive the newsletter by email. We definitely plan to start sending out a regular newsletter, but when is yet undecided. So for the time being, return here every two weeks as you have been for your Chinese lit fix.
In this tale of age-old human ingenuity and perseverance, the smallest pleasures—a piece of candy, a new red hat, a visit from a distant neighbor—pop with a luminosity that our cornucopia of contemporary consumer goodies cannot rival. People can figure out how to survive under the most punishing circumstances, and learning about how these people do it—how they have done it for centuries—makes Winter Pasture an unlikely but inspiring getaway read for the late pandemic.
As you may have seen, for 2021, we’ve already started a new series of Sunday Sentences and biweekly news posts, which we hope will add some fun and dynamism to the world of Chinese literature in translation. Meanwhile, we would like to draw your attention to our new video program, Interview with Julia Lovell on her new translation of Journey to the West. Some interesting questions are discussed, from which you can see how Julia ‘created’ the new Monkey King. Finally, a lot is happening behind the scenes at Paper Republic. For example, we are working on a series of educational events to help emerging and established translators. Please watch this space for more!
Today is the fifteenth day of the Year of the Ox, the Lantern Festival! People will be celebrating the day with families or friends, eating Glutinous Rice Balls and solving lantern riddles.
Today is also the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, when people leave their families and go back to work in the cities, carrying with them bags of homemade specialties and high hopes for the new year.
No matter where you are and what you are working on, we wish you and your family a safe, healthy, productive, and happy new year.
Not content with the complete works of Lu Xun, Julia Lovell has taken on another momentous project in a new translation of Journey to the West, aka Monkey King. Watch as she joins Emily Jones and Dylan King in conversation about the translation process, and the story's place in Chinese and world culture.
Bonus feature: read Nicky Harman's review of the translation on the Asian Books Blog
LOTS to read this week: poetry aplenty, a story from the inimitable Zhu Yue, another review of Strange Beasts of China, extract from Uyghur writer Alat Asem's work, and a discussion with translator Carlos Roja about The Four Books. Dig in!
Hi all! Lots of events to be excited about in the next month or two, plus plenty of reading to be getting on with. Anyway, have a lovely two weeks and we'll see you same time, same place in a fortnight.
France's Prix Émile Guimet de littérature asiatique (Émile Guimet Prize for Asian Literature) has been awarded to Fang Fang (方方) for her novel, Soft Burial (软埋), translated by Brigitte Duzan as Funérailles molles.
PRC citizens may be a bit surprised --- when and if they hear the news --- since the novel was reportedly taken off retail bookshelves some time ago.
For the video of an interview with Duzan (in French) in which she discusses Funérailles molles, visit here and fast-forward to 33:00.
Fang Fang is also the author of the controversial Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City (武汉日记), translated into English by Michael Berry.
A few days ago we published a statement on the site regarding Paper Republic's stance on racism, and support for BIPOC translators. After more discussion with the community, we posted a further statement on Twitter, which we're reposting here:
Paper Republic condemns the racism that has played, and continues to play, a fundamental role in shaping the fields of translation and publishing, and in preventing the voices of BIPOC translators from being heard.
We condemn racist translation practices both overt and covert, including bridge translation, and any other practice which devalues or discounts the work of BIPOC translators.
We apologize to Yilin Wang for the personal racist attacks she's had to endure during the course of this exchange, and we apologize to everyone watching for how long it's taken us to respond appropriately to the situation.
Our immediate course of action will be to take responsibility for community postings on Paper Republic: we will no longer permit unmoderated posts.
For the longer term, we are starting conversations with people in the community, and are considering what active programming we can put in place to support BIPOC translators and writers.
This initiative will require more research; we're likely to take Yilin's suggestion of either a community survey, or a "town hall" type event.